By Bill Primavera
It’s the wisest advice any home seller could receive: check out that front door! It can be the key to a home’s personality, either reflecting the condition of the space within – or contradicting it.
Just as a person is judged within a few seconds of a first meeting, a house is judged in great part by the condition, functionality and look of its front door.
If the door needs painting or is warped and if the hardware is tarnished and in poor working order, a pall can be cast over the entire house as being outdated. Perhaps some homeowners are unaware of a deteriorating front door because most people drive into their attached garage and walk directly into the mud room or kitchen. However, visitors and prospective home buyers would come only to the front door.
While the functional purposes of a front door are to withstand the elements, help toward energy efficiency and provide protection for the home, visitors view it as an aesthetic statement, even a psychological one. If the door is attractive and in good shape, that perception extends to the entire household – and to its owners as well.
Some door problems can be repaired and others cannot. If the door is improperly hung, has trouble closing or latching, is only slightly warped or is just sticking, these problems may be worth fixing. But if it has rot or is outdated in style, consider the options for replacement.
Whether you use a contractor or a handyman for door replacement, you’ll get different opinions about which kind of new door to choose. Some would suggest that the best material to use is wood. Steel or aluminum may be recommended as the most sturdy and secure, but according to most remodeling contractors, the most popular choice today is the high-quality fiberglass door. The insulation quality of the latter is better than that of a wooden door, and it will not warp or crack.
The feature I like best about a fiberglass door is that the manufacturers have managed to develop an incredibly realistic grain that matches real wood. Also, there is a great number of door styles and beveled glass options available. Fiberglass can be stained or painted, and fancy hardware can be applied to them, just as you would a wood door.
That brings us to the subject of the door hardware which, in aesthetic terms, can make a door “pop,” but if it’s worn, that pop can be a dull thud. The polished look is one factor, but a lock and handle’s functionality is the primary thing to consider. Basically, locksets fall into two different categories, mortise or cylindrical. While I don’t fully understand the mechanical workings of these two types of locks, my trusted locksmith tells me that mortise locksets, which are installed into a rectangular dugout in the door, offer the ultimate in security, design and ruggedness.
The choice of locksets and handles can be a daunting experience. When I went hunting for new hardware, I was overwhelmed by the selection available. I took a picture of the set I thought the most attractive and showed it to my locksmith and asked him to supply the best choice for my door, which was a genuine antique, and the lock required all sorts of considerations for its installation. Better to leave such things to the experts, unless you’re a great do-it-yourselfer, which I am not.
Highly polished solid brass knobs, backplates and thumb latches are desirable but, fair warning, they can be quite expensive.
When it comes to selecting a color for the front door, it is a situation of relating to, or contrasting with, one of the other tones found in the house or the landscape that surrounds it. Most people today are choosing a deep green or red to have their front doors stand out.
One cardinal rule about color: a front door should never be stark white. The theory here is that the door should relate to the landscape in some way and pure white is rarely found in nature. The large casing around the door should be a different color than the door itself. The casing should be treated like a trim, which matches the windows and other trim.
For those of you with a bent toward feng shui, you know that the front door is the main source of a house’s energy. But practically and simply put for both curb appeal and resale value, spruce up the front door, and in a sense, you have a new home.
Bill Primavera is a Realtor® associated with William Raveis Real Estate and Founder of Primavera Public Relations, Inc. (www.PrimaveraPR.com). His real estate site is www.PrimaveraRealEstate.com, and his blog is www.TheHomeGuru.com. To engage the services of The Home Guru to market your home for sale, call 914-522-2076.